The Big Questions: Fire Extinguishers : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

In the spirit of last week's threads on pressure canners (thanks, we're getting one direct from the mfg, dehydrators (thinking but unsure) and TVP (trying one of the recipes today, report soon), I have a question for folks about fire extinguishers, namely:

Which one(s)? (Brands)

Which types?

How about availability?

We do have a pump to go from our creek directly, but would like to have two-three of the smaller kind for smaller emergencies in the house. I'm wondering specifically whether the cheap Wal-mart type are any good or just toys.

-- BigDog (, March 02, 1999


FEMA recommends the ABC types. I picked up a couple of medium sized ones from Home Depot for $19 each that are definitely not toys.

-- Codejockey (, March 02, 1999.

Just picked up a couple extinguishers last night. Made by Kidde, the Home/Office version, rated ABC. Years ago, had occasion to use one to put out a chimney fire. :-( They are not toys. If you need to extinguish a fire, be prepared for the "fog" that develops. The chemical reaction will immediately fill a room with a choking mist. Make sure the fire is out completely, then get out. Actually, the fog will force you out. Also, when a smoke detector goes off, believe it! I'm glad I did.

-- Elbow Grease (, March 02, 1999.

Sam's Club also has the ABC types (puts out most common types of fires) for around $20. These are small commercial extinguishers -- but bigger than most 'home' fire extinguishers. Definitely not toys.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, March 02, 1999.

A related question: Does anyone know about something that can snuff out a fire in your wood stove flue? I have heard about products that look like a flare that you can use but haven't seen them in Home Depot or Costco.

-- (, March 02, 1999.

I've posted reports here before from a man who operates a hydro-electric dam in Washington state. He is also a volunteer fire chief and his advice is two-fold on the subject of fire extinguishers.

First, as in the pre-industrial age, keep fire barrels full of water (need not be potable) and buckets full of sand in strategic locations. Sand will work on all types of fires and could be considered an "ABC" extinguisher. Don't use the water on grease or oil fires.

Second, obtain an appropriate number of the hand-pump type extinguishers that you fill with water. Apparently there is even a flexible plastic type that brush and forest fire fighters carry in a backpack. He reports that the cost is very reasonable in light of the protection offered.

Besides following the advice above, I've got one large (5 gal. CO2) and 4 small dry chemical extinguishers, in the kitchen, shop, next to the wood stove and two replacements. Keep in mind though, that if TSHTF in a major way, these will be "one shot" devices and getting them refilled will not be an option unless you can do it yourself. Sand can be re-used and water can be replaced.

-- Hardliner (, March 02, 1999.

Consumer Reports last tested fire extinguishers in 1994. The 1995 Annual Report doesn't give ratings but concludes:


Your first choice should be a large- or medium-sized multipurpose extinguisher, called "full-floor" models because they are large enough to cover one entire floor of a home against fires of all commomn burning materials. Give first consideration to an extinguisher rated at 3-A:40-B:C. Choose a medium-sized one (rated at 2-A:10-B:C) only if you can't handle a bigger model.

Smaller, supplemental models provide additional coverage for individual rooms. For instance, a small B:C extinguisher is worth considering for a kitchen because of its superior performance n a grease fire.


Sam's Kidde Commercial, which I keep near the bedroom door, is 3-A:40-B:C. My small Black & Decker Flamebuster in the kitchen is 1-B:C.

-- Pyrophobic Old Git (, March 02, 1999.

To Sonofdust- I've seen the chimney fire extinguishers at the local True Value hardware store. Best bet for a chimney is prevention. Keep it clean and burn the right wood.

-- (, March 02, 1999.

When using an extinguisher on any fire, but especially a grease fire, make sure to look at the label instructions on HOW FAR BACK TO STAND FROM THE FIRE! The label will often tell you to stand 8 feet back. I presume that if you stood only a foot or two away and sprayed a grease fire, the hot grease could still splash around from the force of the spray. The fire marshall recommended practicing extinguishing a grease fire by using a disposable turkey roasting pan in the back yard, but I can't remember what he said to use as fuel for the fire, so I don't want to take a guess. Use an old rechargeable extinguisher to fight the practice fire, then get it professionally recharged for y2k. Note even if the pressure is showing a full charge, the contents could be caked up on the bottom of the extinguisher, so it should be recharged before y2k if its either beyond its printed effective date or five years old. Periodically turn your ABC extinguishers upside down a few times to keep the retardant loose.

-- Puddintame (, March 02, 1999.

Sorry, I was mistaken about the CR ratings--there ARE some, as follows:


1. Buckeye, 5HI SA-40 ABC, $45

2. Ansul Sentry, SY-0516, $40

3. General, TCP-5LH, $38

4. American LaFrance, 5MB-6H, $38

5. Kidde, FA340HD, $30

There are other types and sizes, too many to list. Libraries usually have back issues of CR if you need more info.

CR says about recharging: "Most extinguishers can be recharged after a fire or a drop in their pressure [see Yellow Pages]. . . . While recharging the extinguisher is less wasteful than disposal, a recharge may cost as much as a new one and provide less firefighting capacity than the original charge."

-- Old Git (, March 02, 1999.


Great tips everyone! We've got a KIDDIE ABC (3-A:40-B:C) haven't had to use it though. The neighborhood Home Depot has the KIDDIE extinguishers on sale right now, not sure if it's advertised, they are in the front row, the prices are cheaper than Sams Club.

-- Deborah (, March 02, 1999.

Rick: Thanks - I'll give True Value a try - and you are right about keeping it clean (I do it once each year in addition to burning good wood and putting the chems in once in a while to help "loosen" the creosote).

-- Rob Michaels (, March 02, 1999.

Hardliner, Others

Can you provide any information on the hand-pump type extinguishers that you fill with water. I think this might be quite useful, Y2K or not.

-- Rick (, March 02, 1999.

Folks... May an old fire extinguished salesman add his two cents ? First, if they are still on the market, realize that the pyrene type extinguisher produces the deadly gas phosgene, so read label AND vacate room where sprayed, CLOSING the door behind you as the gas will work more effectively to put out fire AND closing the door will cut off fresh supplies of oxygen for fire. Secondly, no one mentioned using CO2 (carbon dioxide ) extinguishers on food fires is THE thing to do because it's -40 degrees below zero & temp will cool a fire down quickly below it's flash point ( when fire is all but out, but greese , fumes , materials are still hot enough to flash back to where you stated if there is a spark OR RED HOT METAL to ignite same). ALSO !!! CO2 evaporates almost instantly , leaving the food cold but edible (if not too scorched !!). ALSO, CO2 is a MUST for eletrical fire as water conducts juice and may cause explosions , spreading the fire. Electrical fires are notoriously HOT and subject to flash back, as described earlier. Hope this gives some guidance when purchasing extinguishers. Eagle Do I smell smoke ? ( Just coming out of my ears !!! )

-- Harold Walker (, March 02, 1999.

Low-tech fire extinguishers: Until at least my early teens (you know when Victoria was a young 'un), it was common for public places to have a long row of buckets filled with sand, hanging from hooks on the wall. They were painted bright red with "FIRE" on the side. Hoses were also connected to spigots in the same place. Can't remember when I first started seeing pressurized fire extinguishers in general use. During WWII, specially-appointed neighbors and workers would ascend to the roofs when air raid warnings sounded. Their job was to pour buckets of sand on incendiary bombs hitting their building. Cheap, easily recharged, non-toxic!

-- Old Git (, March 02, 1999.

Rick & "Others",

Regarding the pump extinguishers and the "back pack" units, here's a good place to start . The gear is a bit pricey, but you get what you pay for and considering what you may be protecting with it, it's cheap at twice the price.

-- Hardliner (, March 02, 1999.


As a recovering Fire Service Wannabe, I gotta tell ya that that site is OK. Gotta go. Gotta clean this stuff off of my keyboard, and monitor.


-- Chuck, night driver (, March 02, 1999.

RICK and others; Just thinking about sprayers that pump water, why can't you get or use those garden sprayers ??? Most of us have them, and they are cheap. Some of those sprayers do hold at least 5 gallons of water, just my thoughts.

-- Furie (, March 02, 1999.

In a former workplace (a chemical research lab), all employees took periodic practice at extinguishing a fire that was small, but fueled by a very flamable liquid, so it was very important to "aim at the base of the fire". Each time, I was struck by the number of people who just watched others do it "right" and proceeded to do it "wrong". If you have an opportunity to observe training films on extinguishing fires, watch closely.

In any case, if you have to deal with a fire that has gotten "out of hand", one which is large and/or rapidly spreading, *get out* before it is too late.

Hopefully, none of us will have such an encounter.


-- Jerry B (, March 03, 1999.

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